For some women, their monthly period is no big deal. For others, it’s a grueling journey through depression, anxiety, irritability, pain, and more. If you think premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is too awful to be natural, you’re right — PMS is a symptom of a hormone imbalance often caused by too much stress.
Although a variety of factors can cause hormonal imbalances and PMS, one of the more common is low progesterone caused by long term chronic stress.
Low progesterone symptoms:
How stress lowers progesterone
Chronic stress causes pregnenolone steal, a situation that causes progesterone deficiency and hormonal imbalances. Pregnenolone is a precursor hormone used to make progesterone and the stress hormone cortisol.
The body can only make so much pregnenolone. This means that if stress is always high, it “steals” pregnenolone from progesterone to make cortisol in order to meet the demands of stress. This causes an imbalance between progesterone and estrogen.
Factors that cause pregnenolone steal
Progesterone cream use can further skew hormones. It’s better to address the causes of low progesterone, which is typically stress-induced pregnenolone steal. Causes of pregnenolone steal and PMS include:
Ways to reduce pregnenolone steal include an anti-inflammatory diet, restoring gut health, and managing autoimmunity.
A variety of compounds can help soothe PMS, such as omega 3 fatty acids and gamma-linoleic acid (GLA—evening primrose oil, borage oil, or black currant oil.
Supporting serotonin, a brain chemical that promotes well-being, may help with PMS mood symptoms — tryptophan, 5-HTP, St. John’s Wort, and SAMe.
This is a broad overview. Ask my office for more advice on using natural therapies to alleviate PMS and support healthy hormones.